Three from 2009 UVA baseball team inducted into Virginia Baseball Hall of Fame

Story by Zach Perelesuva baseball

Phil Gosselin doesn’t make it back to his alma mater all too often. The former University of Virginia infielder/outfielder has been busy bouncing around on six different MLB teams since being drafted in 2010.

But when he does get back to Charlottesville, there’s one thing that’s always brought up: his home run off Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional. The first-inning blast off the then-undefeated Strasburg helped Virginia win 5-1 that day, and a few days later the Cavaliers advanced to the program’s first ever Super Regional. Then came the program’s first College World Series weeks later.

Gosselin was back in Charlottesville this weekend, though, and for good reason. He was part of the seven-man class inducted into UVA’s Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, the second class to be honored. And inevitably the home run off Strasburg — one of the most memorable moments in program history — came up.

“It’s up there for sure,” said Gosselin of his favorite baseball moments. “Individual stuff isn’t probably as important. Breaking through to Omaha was number one, but I guess that was part of the journey to break through. It’s something I’ll always remember, and definitely people bring that up to me more than anything else.”

Coach Brian O’Connor looks back at that 2009 squad as the team that helped build Virginia into the powerhouse it is today. Virginia has been to six Super Regionals since.

“That’s one of my prouder things, for sure, of my entire baseball career for sure, even playing in the big leagues, having some success in pro ball, that kind of stuff,” Gosselin said. “Whenever [my friends and I] talk, it’s always talking about that. Going to Omaha, being the first team, beating Ole Miss at their place and all that. The individual stuff’s cool, but I think the team aspect of it — and the team’s only been better since — is one of the best baseball experiences for me.”

Gosselin — whose 100 hits in 2010 is still a program record — wasn’t the only member of that 2009 team entering Virginia lore. He was joined by former teammates C/1B John Hicks (now with the Detroit Tigers) and 3B Steven Proscia.

“We had some great teams while we were here; 2009 was the year where we kind of surprised everybody,” Hicks said “Proscia and I were freshman and Phil was a sophomore. And then 2011 was [Proscia’s and my] last year. It was crazy. We had a great team and made it back to Omaha. We had some awesome times here. … I’m sure we’ll go back and have plenty of good memories to talk about.”

Four others joined that trio in this year’s class. The senior member, 2B Mel Roach, played from 1952-1953. One of the greatest athletes in Virginia history, Roach also played football and basketball for the Cavaliers before an eight-year career in MLB and shared an outfield with Hank Aaron for several seasons in Milwaukee.

RHP Tim Burcham also entered the Hall. A standout in the early- to mid-1980s, Burcham still holds the program record for complete games (20) and is third in career strikeouts (272).

Rounding out the class was another group of teammates: LHP Casey Lambert and OF Brandon Guyer, who both played in the mid-2000s. Lambert, a closer, holds program records in both appearances and saves. Guyer, who ranks fourth on the all-time Virginia doubles list, has been in the Big Leagues since 2011 and played in the 2016 World Series with the Cleveland Indians. He appeared in 103 games last season.

It was a special night for the former Cavaliers and the coach.

“They poured their heart and soul into this program,” O’Connor said of the 2019 class. “They know it’s part of their fiber of who they are as people. I know that they’re very, very proud to be here.”

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The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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